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WHEN VIEWING ON A MOBILE DEVICE -- DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM 22  chapter 2 her and petted her lovingly, even sharing their beloved blankies with her. Offering comfort to her seemed to help them find the inner resources needed to find comfort for themselves as well. The next time there was a thunder- storm, the children’s concern for Nina overshadowed their own fears about the thunder. They set to work trying to keep the dog comfortable and seemed to forget their own past fears. In a classroom, educators can support children when they see them feeling nervous or anxious. If you have pets in the classroom, encourage children to think about how those pets are feeling, for example, during a storm or a fire drill. Even if the classroom gerbils seem indifferent or unaware, it can help the children to consider the experience from the per- spective of these small animals. If the children are feeling nervous about the fire drill, for example, they may project those feelings onto the gerbils. If they don’t project their feelings onto the gerbils, it is still fodder for a good conver- sation. You might ask, “Why aren’t the gerbils afraid? How do they know they are safe? How do we know we are safe? The same way, or different?” The chil- dren will have many ideas for how to comfort or reassure the gerbils. Then, later, when the children are feeling nervous themselves, you can remind them that they already have many good ideas about how to calm nervous feelings: “Remember how we helped the gerbils when they were afraid? We spoke in quiet voices, and we stayed close by. Let’s try that with each other.” There are many opportunities, then, for children to work through their fears and anxieties by projecting their own feelings onto animals, then giving the animals the care and tenderness that they themselves desire. Though they might not be able to explain it, children love animals for plenty of reasons. Animals can offer novel, multisensory experiences that are stim- ulating and powerful. They respond to children in ways that are familiar and easy to understand, yet also exciting and delightful. On a more subtle level, animals allow children a safe sounding board with whom they can practice speaking, sorting out their feelings, and being caregivers. Animal characters, stuffed animals, and toys serve as tools for children to explore feelings, direct their own life circumstances, and resolve their own struggles. And animals sometimes comfort children in a way nobody else can. Midway through the school year, Lateesha enters a preschool class- room for the first time. She has just moved here, and she feels shy and COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL